New Delhi: Following massive outrage across social media platforms, the Supreme Court of India stayed an acquittal order of Bombay High Court that said groping a minor without “skin to skin contact” cannot be termed as sexual assault under the POCSO Act. A Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde issued a notice to the accused in the case, seeking his response in two weeks. Also Read - UPSC Exam 2021: Supreme Court Dismisses Plea Of Last Attempt Civil Service Candidates
Last week, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court acquitted a 39-year-old man who groped a minor girl’s breasts, saying there must be “skin to skin contact with sexual intent” for an act to be considered sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Also Read - Mukesh Ambani's $3.4 Billion Deal With Future Group Stalled After Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Amazon Plea
A high court bench headed by Justice Ganediwala had modified, the order of a sessions court, the detailed copy of which was made available now, that had sentenced the accused to three years of imprisonment for sexually assaulting the 12-year-old girl. Also Read - Supreme Court Asks RBI To Frame Regulations in 6 Months For Locker Facility Management in Banks
Bombay High Court Order
As per the prosecution and the minor victim’s testimony in court, in December 2016, the accused, one Satish, had taken the girl to his house in Nagpur on the pretext of giving her something to eat. Once there, he gripped her breast and attempted to remove her clothes, the high court recorded in its verdict.
However, since he groped her without removing her clothes, “The act…in the absence of any specific detail as to whether the top was removed or whether he inserted his hand inside the top and pressed her breast, would not fall in the definition of sexual assault,” Justice Ganediwala held, adding that it “can be a criminal force to a woman/ girl with the intention to outrage her modesty”.
According to the POCSO Act, sexual assault can be defined only when someone “with sexual intent touches the vagina, penis, anus or breast of the child or makes the child touch the vagina, penis, anus or breast of such person or any other person, or does any other act with sexual intent which involves physical contact without penetration is said to commit sexual assault”.